The electric vehicle revolution might be turning out to be more of an evolution, but it is no less inevitable for that. Over the next decade, the national fleet will transition, becoming more and more electrified. With that comes ramifications for service departments. So, what will your service department look like in 2030?

Electric motors themselves will not require much in the way of maintenance. Petrol and diesel engines have thousands of moving parts, whereas electric motors are fairly simple, with most made up of 20 parts or fewer.

There will be no oil to change or filters to renew, no timing belts or water pumps to change. Manufacturers say transmissions will ‘sealed for life’.
But electric vehicles (EVs) will still need to be checked with a diagnostic machine, in order to detect possible fault codes. The same goes for the battery which, like the motor, has no moving parts. Performance checks will reveal any damaged cells. High voltage electrical cables will require a visual inspection.

Like traditional cars, EVs employ cooling systems, which keep the battery at optimum temperature. Most of these are liquid cooled and will not need much more than a visual review and topping up of fluid levels if required.
The rest of an EV is similar to a normal internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Safety related items such as brakes, suspension, steering and tyres need monitoring. Regenerative braking means the traditional friction brakes are likely to need fewer disc and pad changes. However, they will be asked to work harder due to the extra weight of an EV. Brake fluid will need to be changed on a similar schedule to ICE vehicles. The greater weight and instant torque of EVs will likely lead to a higher wear rate for tyres.

Heating and ventilation systems will require evaluation and cabin air filters changed. Air-conditioning systems’ refrigerant levels will need checking and re-charging.

Depending on the manufacturer, the frequency of service intervals will be based on time and distance travelled. A Nissan Leaf will need attention once a year or every 30,000km, while a Porsche Taycan’s schedule is two years and 50,000km. The onboard computer of BMW’s i3 will alert drivers as to when maintenance is required, although the brand recommends a visit at least every two years even if the car’s service monitor does not suggest it.

2030 Will Be Here Soon

An IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) report released last October predicted that by 2030:

  • every person will own 15 connected devices;
  • up to 15% of new cars sold could be fully autonomous;
  • software will account for 90% of innovations in the vehicle and lines of code will be a hundredfold what they are today; and
  • car-sharing could make up 26% of global miles travelled.

The report predicts that technology advancements and consumer expectations will be the constant drivers of change over the next 10 years. “Sustainability is driving the focus on electric cars and the need for new skills is causing shortages in the workforce,” it notes.

“Regardless of how quickly the future materialises, two things are certain:

“First, digital technologies create entirely new ways to foster seamless touch-points with consumers. They provide insights that deliver personalised services and integrate the vehicle with various aspects of a person’s life.

“Second, consumers expect the digital experiences they get from the vehicle to be as good or better than those they get from their other smart devices.”

The report states that automotive organisations must evolve to operate and innovate like high tech companies, focusing their businesses around digital and data.

The IBV Automotive 2030 Consumer Survey questioned 11,566 consumer respondents, while the Automotive 2030 Executive Survey had 1,500 automotive executive respondents.

“Fifty percent of surveyed automotive executives say that to succeed or even survive, they need to reinvent their organisations with digital technologies. And 42 percent have a high sense of urgency. Even something as sacred as the vehicle brand could lose importance in the mobility as-a-service world—unless the digital experience earns consumer loyalty,” the report says.

Automotive executives expect the industry to spend over USD 33 billion to re-skill their employees by 2030. Multiple businesses are coming together, collaborating with technology, facilities, and expertise to design, build, sell, and service vehicles. For example, the BMW Group and Daimler AG are pooling mobility services to create a new global outfit delivering sustainable urban mobility for customers.

More than four in five (82%) of automotive executives said vehicle diagnostics and maintenance data would drive the most value for their businesses.

“Being able to proactively diagnose and fix issues using insights from data is especially valuable because the cognitive vehicle handles more maintenance situations on its own,” the report says.

Splend, a company that leases vehicles to Uber drivers in Australia and Britain, is aiming to reinvent itself as a ‘green mobility’ company, employing $40 million refinancing to provide passengers with the option to choose to ride in an electric vehicle.

The company expects that by the end of 2022, half its fleet will be made up of electric vehicles.

So, change is coming – and fast. Service departments will have to adapt, retraining and up-skilling their workforces to deal with the new demands of the electric age. It’s not something Dealers should fear: their close relationships with OEMs will give them a head start over independent outfits provided they look at this as an opportunity rather than an imposition. It’s coming, whether you like it or not. Be ready.

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